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IDP Game Breakdowns - Week 10
Steve Gallo
November 13, 2009
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Weekly, I will break down each team’s matchup and offer ratings on the more important IDPs.  Preceding the game breakdowns is a reference chart that lists each team’s scheme, defensive coordinator & projected three down linebackers.  In addition the reference chart is color coded to identify teams that are giving up average (highlighted in yellow), below average (highlighted in red) & above average (highlighted in green) tackle opportunities (TOs) based on their season average.  Basically, if your LB is facing a RED team then it isn't a good matchup, conversely a GREEN team would be a GOOD matchup.  The historical average for tackle opportunities is 47 (highlighted in yellow) and anything 46 or less will be in red and above 47 will be in green.  Ratings are based on a 12-team league that assumes the following starting requirements: 2 defensive linemen (DL) (defensive ends (DE) & defensive tackles (DT)), 3-4 linebackers (LB), 2 defensive backs (DB) (cornerbacks (CB) & safeties (S)).  Good luck & enjoy!

Star Rating System:
Five-Star Play: Studly performance anticipated
Four-Star Play: Above average solid starter
Three-Star Play: Starter
Two-Star Play: Bench ‘em or possible sleeper
One-Star Play: Bench ‘em no matter what
* Star Ratings boxes are now color coded to show the tackle opportunities the team they are facing is giving up:
average (highlighted in yellow), below average (highlighted in red) & above average (highlighted in green)  This will help so that you don't have to continually scroll up to the reference chart and also if you are stuck between who to start out of say two 3 Star players then you will probably want to go with the one that has a "Green" matchup versus a "Red" matchup.

Scoring system used for this article: solo tackle (2), assisted tackle (1), sack (3), forced or recovered fumble (3), interception (3) and pass defended (1).

Teams on BYE in week 10:  Houston, New York Giants

Tackle Opportunities(TOs) given up by teams offense, Team base schemes, Defensive Coordinators and three down linebackers (remember Scheme Matters)

Team Avg TOs
Given Up/Wk
Defensive
Scheme
Defensive
Coordinator
Three down linebackers
ARZ 47 3-4 Bill Davis Karlos Dansby, Gerald Hayes, Chike Okeafor
ATL 48 4-3 Brian VanGorder Curtis Lofton, Mike Peterson
BAL 51 3-4(Multi Front) Greg Mattison Ray Lewis, Jarret Johnson
BUF 43 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Perry Fewell Paul Posluszny, Keith Ellison
CAR 49 4-3 & Tampa 2 Ron Meeks Jon Beason, Landon Johnson
CHI 46 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Bob Babich Lance Briggs
CIN 49 4-3 Mike Zimmer Dhani Jones
CLE 40 3-4 Rob Ryan Kamerion Wimbley, David Bowens
DAL 47 3-4 Wade Phillips Bradie James, DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer
DEN 50 3-4 Mike Nolan DJ Williams, Elvis Dumervil
DET 46 4-3 Gunther Cunningham Larry Foote
GB 48 3-4 Dom Capers Aaron Kampman, Nick Barnett
HOU 52 4-3 Frank Bush DeMeco Ryans, Bryan Cushing
IND 50 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Larry Coyer Gary Brackett, Clint Session
JAX 46 4-3 Mel Tucker Justin Durant, Daryl Smith
KC 46 3-4 Clancy Pendergast Mike Vrabel, Tamba Hali
MIA 52 3-4 Paul Pasqualoni Channing Crowder, Jason Taylor, Joey Porter
MIN 51 Tampa 2/Cover 2 Leslie Frazier EJ Henderson, Chad Greenway
NE 55 3-4 Dean Pees Jerod Mayo
NO 56 4-3 Gregg Williams Jonathan Vilma, Scott Shanle
NYG 52 4-3 Bill Sheridan Antonio Pierce, Michael Boley
NYJ 51 3-4 Mike Pettine David Harris, Bart Scott
OAK 39 4-3 John Marshall Kirk Morrison, Thomas Howard
PHL 44 4-3 Sean McDermott Will Witherspoon
PIT 50 3-4 Dick LeBeau James Farrior, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, L Timmons
SD 44 3-4 Ron Rivera Stephen Cooper, Shawne Merriman, Shaun Phillips
SEA 48 4-3 Gus Bradley Situation currently unsettled
SF 41 3-4 Greg Manusky Patrick Willis
STL 44 4-3 Ken Flajole James Laurinaitis, Paris Lenon
TB 41 4-3 Jim Bates Barrett Ruud, Geno Hayes
TEN 47 4-3 Chuck Cecil Keith Bulluck, David Thornton
WAS 44 4-3 Greg Blache London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh, Brian Orakpo

REMINDER:  STAR BOXES ARE COLOR CODED BASED ON THE TACKLE OPPORTUNITIES THE TEAM THEY ARE FACING IS GIVING UP ON AVERAGE.

Chicago at San Francisco

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Danieal Manning
3 STAR

Alex Brown
Lance Briggs
Charles Tillman

2 STAR
Hunter Hillenmeyer
Nick Roach
Adewale Ogunleye
Zachary Bowman
1 STAR
Al Afalava
Gaines Adams

BearsI guess that Bears fans still can hang their hat on the fact that the Bears technically are still in the running for a Wild Card birth this year.  However, I am pretty sure that when they signed Jay Cutler they never envisioned being -11 net points at the half way point of the season.  Making the playoffs wont matter much if the offense doesn't score more points and the defense doesn't start playing Bears defense.  This week will be a tough battle in the bay and one that doesn't present the best matchups for Bears IDP owners.

Defensive Line:  The Bears DL has been a pretty big disappointment for the most part this year. Believe it or not Alex Brown still ranks as a DL2 with the 21st most points scored among fellow DL.  Adewale Ogunleye has been in a serious funk since returning from the Bears bye week as he has only put up a combined 17 points in those 4 games.  At this point in time there has been no official word on a fine or suspension for Tommie Harris but rumor has it he will only get a fine and not a suspension.

Linebacker:  The Niners haven't really been a great matchup in general with tackle opportunities but this week I have a feeling they really commit to the run and that bodes well for Lance Briggs owners.  Still I was conservative with his ranking since past trends don't really support ranking him a 4 star play.  Hunter Hillenmeyer is a guy that can be looked at as a LB3/4 in very deep leagues.

Secondary:  Danieal Manning has 29 total tackles over the past 3 weeks and is simply to hot to not rank as a 4 star play.  Just like with Briggs the numbers don't really support a 4 star ranking but Manning has been much hotter of late and should have no problem putting up 4 star numbers.  Charles Tillman is strong in run support otherwise against what should be a limited Niners passing attack he would have ranked one level down.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Patrick Willis

3 STAR
Michael Lewis
Dashon Goldson
Shawntae Spencer
2 STAR
None
1 STAR
Justin Smith

49ersThis is a big game for the Niners and coach Mike Singletary on many different levels.   On one level the Niners badly need to get back into the win column and will need to take advantage of home field advantage.  The other level is Singletary facing the team that he is an icon for. Then the last level is having to back up the smack talk that Vernon Davis put out there this week.  One guy and one coach won't win this game, it will take a total team effort and nothing short of that.

Defensive Line:  Pretty much all season I have been saying that Justin Smith just isn't someone you can rely on this year.  He then toyed with fantasy owners by putting up back to back decent games in weeks 7 & 8.  Then all he did in week 9 was to do an almost complete disappearing act as he posted 1 lowly point.  If you are a gambling man then you can try and guess what weeks Smith will be worth playing.  For me he would be riding the pine of actually just cut from my team.

Linebacker:  Outside of the Cleveland game the Bears have given up very good games to ILBs.  This week Patrick Willis will just add to that trend.  If you are looking help from any other Niners LB you have my condolences.

Secondary:  Michael Lewis and Dashon Goldson look to have decent worth this week and should be in most lineups. The Bears have also given up some very nice games to opposing CBs.  With that said look for Shawntae Spencer to be a sneaky play this week.  In DB combined leagues Spencer is a bit risky as a 3 star play but in CB mandatory leagues he looks to be pretty solid.


Atlanta at Carolina

5 STAR
Curtis Lofton
4 STAR
Mike Peterson
3 STAR

Eric Coleman
John Abraham

2 STAR

Chris Houston
Thomas Decoud

1 STAR
Stephen Nicholas
Jonathan Babineaux

FalconsAfter losing two straight games the Falcons got back in the win column last week and pushed their record to 5-3 on the season.  Before you go an put another win in the column for the Falcons realize that they are on the road this week and that all three of their losses this season have come on the road. Sure you think the Panthers should be an easy win but the truth is that they have been playing much better over the past 4 games.  If the Falcons want to be a playoff team they are going to have to win on the road.  The Panthers have really gotten their running game going of late and that should mean very good things for key Falcons IDPs. 

Defensive Line:  Last week I said to expect John Abraham to have a very good game but I sort of missed the boat.  Abraham did have a good game posting 4 total tackles with a half sack but it was Jonathan Babineaux that posted the bests numbers.  Babineaux posted 10 combined tackles with 2.5 sacks.  Prior to his explosion last week Babineaux hadn't posted more than 3 total tackles in any week.  Actually, up until last week Babineaux had only logged 14 total tackles for the entire season. That means you don't need to rush out to the wavier wire to pick him up. 

Linebacker: Over the past four weeks Barrett Ruud (9), Paul Posluszny (11), Karlos Dansby (12) & Jonathan Vilma (12) have combined to post 44 total tackles versus the Panthers.  Yes, that is why Curtis Lofton is a 5 star play.  Expect Mike Peterson to be an above average play too. 

INJURY UPDATE: Curtis Lofton (knee, ankle) is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  Last week a potent Saints passing offense really helped Brent Grimes and Eric Coleman fill the box score.  This week I would be hesitant about running Grimes out as a starter.  Coleman should be safe as a DB3 but just like Peterson if you have better options with more upside I would seriously give them consideration over Coleman.

5 STAR
Jon Beason
4 STAR

None

3 STAR
Chris Harris
Chris Gamble
Landon Johnson
2 STAR
Julius Peppers
Richard Marshall
1 STAR
Damione Lewis

Panthers The Panthers sure surprised just about everyone two weeks ago as they traveled to the desert and knocked off the defending NFC Champion Cardinals.  A major factor in being able to pull of that win is that the Panthers have really jump started their running game.  And that running game was a major factor in them building a 17-6 halftime lead versus the Saints.  Unfortunately, they were unable to keep the Saints down.  Look for them to continue to focus on establishing the run as they try to add to the number of losses the Falcons are racking up on the road.  The Panthers early season play made it easy for people to forget how good this team was last year and with a revived running attack they might be rekindling some of last years swagger.

Defensive line: Last week I pointed out that Julius Peppers has been having trouble racking up tackles that he was only a 2 star play because of it.  Well last week he did only post 1 solo tackle and that was it.  So far this year only 2 DEs have posted more than 2 combined total tackles versus the Falcons (Phillip Merling 4 solos & Justin Smith 3 solos & 1 assist) and that means you should leave Peppers on your bench for another week.

INJURY UPDATE: Julius Peppers (hand) was limited in practice on Wednesday but fully participated in practice the rest of the week and is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Linebackers: The biggest news surrounding the Panthers LBs is that WLB Thomas Davis tore his ACL and has been placed on season ending IR.  Jon Beason should see an increase in his tackles with Davis out of the lineup.  Look for Landon Johnson to take over the three down WLB role that Davis was manning.

Secondary:  Richard Marshall has pretty much been a huge disappointment this year and at this point is just to hard to rely on as a starter.  The talent is there and undeniable but Marshall will have to string together a couple of good weeks together before you can consider putting him back into the starting lineup.  One thing to keep an eye on will be how the loss of Thomas Davis effects the secondary.


Tampa Bay at Miami

5 STAR
Barrett Ruud
4 STAR
Tanard Jackson
3 STAR

Sabby Piscitelli
Geno Hayes

2 STAR

James Wilkerson
Stylez White
Aqib Talib
Ronde Barber

1 STAR

Quincy Black

BuccaneersSo last week I go and insult the Buccaneers by calling them the Buc-cakes and all they do is go out and notch their first win.  Josh Freeman played well enough to give Tampa fans some hope for the future. Don't expect the Buccaneers to log win number two this week but what you can expect is for their key IDPs to have a very good week as they face a Dolphins team that is giving up 3rd most tackle opportunities/game.

Defensive Line: Only two DEs have logged more than 4 solo tackles versus the Dolphins this year so temper any expectations you may have had for Stylez White or James Wilkerson.  The Dolphins have given up multiple sacks in 5 games so there is the chance of either logging a sack or two but that still isn't compelling enough to make me start either player.

INJURY UPDATE: Stylez White (shoulder) missed practice all week and is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.

Linebacker: Barrett Ruud is currently tied for 10th in PPG scored by LBs with 123 points scored.  Last week was the first time since week 1 that Ruud hadn't scored in double digits.  Look for him to get back into double digits this week.  Outside 4-3 LBs have had pretty good success versus the Dolphins too so look for Geno Hayes to put up solid starters numbers this week too.

Secondary: Both Tanard Jackson and Sabby Piscitelli should be very good starts this week. Call it a gut but I think Jackson has the better week of the two this week.  Last week Jackson was able to take an INT to the house for a TD but if you saw the play many of his teammates were motioning for him to go down because the INT sealed their victory.  So I am sure that fantasy owners were happy to see him ignore his teammates but it shows he either wasn't worried about his teammates or wasn't aware of the situation.  Neither are good reasons so I am curious to see if we hear anything about this from the coaches.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Yeremiah Bell

2 STAR

Channing Crowder
Akin Ayodele
Gibril Wilson
Chris Clemons

1 STAR
Jason Taylor
Joey Porter

DolphinsThe Dolphins can take a few positives from their loss to the Patriots last week.  First they were able to keep the Patriots within striking distance for most of the game and secondly they did so without really being able to establish their running game.  For the Dolphins to be successful they need to establish their running attack and control the game and clock with it.  This week they should be able to get back on track versus Tampa Bay. For the most part starting any Dolphins IDPs this week is a risky proposition.

Defensive Line:  I will take a pass on having to start any Dolphins DLs.  If you are really, really, really in a bind then you could look at Randy Starks but don't say I didn't warn you.

Linebacker:  Between injuries and poor play Channing Crowder has really left his owners high and dry this year.  Last week Crowder was unable to play due to injury but this week he is practicing again and not even listed on the injury report.  In re-draft leagues I am sure that Crowder has been dumped long ago but there are some in dynasty leagues, especially deeper dynasty leagues that still have him rostered and would like to see him start contributing.  Unfortunately, this week doesn't look like a very good tackle opportunity for Crowder or any of the other Dolphin LBs.

Secondary:  Rookie QB Josh Freeman played pretty well last week but going on the road to face the Dolphins is a bit different than playing in front of your hometown fans.  With that said I think that pretty much all of the Dolphins IDPs are risky plays this week with the exception of one, Yeremiah Bell.  I wouldn't expect a huge day from Bell but he should be able to put up DB2 numbers at worst this week.


Detroit at Minnesota

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Larry Foote
3 STAR

Louis Delmas
Ko Simpson
DeAndre Levy

2 STAR
Julian Peterson
Cliff Avril
Dewayne White
1 STAR
Jason Hunter
Marquand Manuel

LionsThe Lions sort of gave the Vikings a bit of a game the last time they played this year.  This week the Lions best chance to get out of Minnesota without a loss would be if the Metrodome were to implode. I know, "any given Sunday", well when that saying was first coined I doubt they had the Lions in mind.  Best thing in this game will be the number of tackle opportunities that Lions IDPs should end up facing.

Defensive Line:  If Cliff Avril or Dewayne White were 1 sack shy of an NFL record then maybe you could consider plugging one of them into your starting lineup  but outside of that I would leave them on my bench this week. White also missed practice on Wednesday so keep a close eye on the injury report if you plan on starting him.

INJURY UPDATE: Dewayne White (toe) was a limited participant in practice on Thursday and Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker:  Larry Foote should be the biggest beneficiary out of all the Lions IDPs this week as he tries to keep RB Adrian Peterson under wraps.  Ernie Sims made his way back into the starting lineup last week but didn't do much posting just 2 solos and an assist. And then just like that Sims is hurt again and is expected to miss a month due to a torn hamstring.  Maybe after this stint DeAndre Levy will be able to keep the starting gig.  Julian Peterson has put up some very good weeks this year but those have been against teams with suspect OLs.  The Vikings have a very good OL and you would be best off to leave Peterson on your bench this week.   It should also be noted that Sims (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday.  I will update his status later this week.

INJURY UPDATE: Larry Foote (knee) missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday but was a limited participant on Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  Last week Ko Simpson got the start at strong safety for the Lions and all he did was lead the team in tackles with 9 solo stops.  Look for another productive week from the former Buffalo 4th round draft pick.  Louis Delmas is proving to be a nice draft pick for the Lions.  Last week Delmas picked off the first pass of his NFL career.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Cedric Griffin
Jared Allen
3 STAR
EJ Henderson
Chad Greenway
Ray Edwards
2 STAR
Kevin Williams
Madieu Williams
1 STAR
Tyrell Johnson
Pat Williams

VikingsThe Vikings are coming off of a bye week and will look to add to their 7-1 record this week.  The Vikings are still chasing the undefeated Saints for the best record in the NFC and can ill afford to cough up a game to an opponent like the Lions.  On paper this doesn't look to be a great matchup for Vikings IDPs due to a lack of expected tackle opportunities.  However, I think we will see the key Vikings IDPs step up and make the most from their limited snaps this week. 

Defensive Line:  Jared Allen is as plug and play as it gets at the DL position.  He isn't always going to log a multi sack game but you just can't ever bench him.  This week very well could be one of those multi sack games too.  Ray Edwards also looks like a solid play this week. 

Linebacker:  EJ Henderson (knee) was limited in practice on Wednesday but should be good to go for this matchup versus the Lions. In their last meeting Henderson was able to log 7 solo tackles and should be in the same ballpark this week.  Chad Greenway earned defensive player of the week the last time he faced the Lions, largely due to his 2 interceptions.  I doubt we see Greenway earn defensive player of the week this week  or record 2 more interceptions but we should see him but up decent stats.

INJURY UPDATE: EJ Henderson (knee) practiced fully on Friday and is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  Antoine Winfield (foot) is starting to practice again but according to local beat writers looks as if he is still being limited by his injury.  Thursday all Winfield did was run at practice.  Look for Winfield to miss at least this week due to his turf toe injury.  Cedric Griffin should be able to pickup the slack with Winfield sidelined and looks to be a very good play this weekend.

INJURY UPDATE: Antoine Winfield (foot) has been ruled OUT for this week.


Jacksonville at New York Jets

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Justin Durant
3 STAR
Daryl Smith
Gerald Alexander
Reggie Nelson
2 STAR

Derek Cox
Rashean Mathis

1 STAR
Derrick Harvey

JaguarsThe Jaguars were able to hold on to versus the Chiefs last week to notch their 4th win of the season and pulled their record back up to .500.  Luckily for the Jaguars the Chiefs 4th quarter comeback fell just a bit short.  The other big news is that coach Jack Del Rio said that the team would continue forward with the 4-3 defense that they used last week.  The Jaguars won't get out of New York with win number 5 but their IDPs should get out with plenty of tackles in the box score.  The Jets are giving up the 4th most tackle opportunities/game so this is a juicy matchup.

Defensive Line:  A swing and a miss!  That is what happened with my prediction for a big game last week by Derrick Harvey.  With that I hand my head in shame and will not recommend starting another Jaguar DL the rest of the season.  However, if you are in a dynasty league keep an eye on Bryan Smith who is now starting at DE in the Jaguars new look 4-3 defense. I guess I should mention that Smith has unseated Quentin Groves who will now be taking on a reserve roll.  In case you are scoring at home Smith is a former practice squad player and Groves a former 2nd round pick.

Linebacker: The move back to a 4-3 defense should bode very well for Justin Durant.  Durant was already putting up very good numbers in the 3-4 but look for a slight increase in his stats now.  Daryl Smith is having a surprisingly productive year and last week posted a fantastic 8 total tackles with 1.5 sacks.

Secondary: Gerald Alexander should be a slightly better 3 star play than Reggie Nelson this week.  If we see Alexander clearly out produce Nelson again this week then adjustments will need to be made with regards to the situation.  Rookie Derek Cox who played in the Colonial Athletic Association for the College of William and Mary has been a pleasant surprise for the Jaguars and IDP owners alike.  This week I would temper expectations for Jaguars CBs as I expect the Jets to really pound the rock this week. Also, for what it is worth Cox isn't the only William and Mary alum in the NFL, Saints safety Darren Sharper and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin are both William and Mary alumni.

INJURY UPDATE: Gerald Alexander (shoulder) was a limited participant in practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
David Harris
3 STAR
Bart Scott
Kerry Rhodes
2 STAR
Calvin Pace
Jim Leonhard
1 STAR

Darrell Revis
Shaun Ellis

JetsThe Jets are another one of those teams that are very up and down this year.  They are looking to get back into the win column to pull back up above .500 on the year in order to stay in contention for a wild card birth.  Hopefully, Mark Sanchez and Braylon Edwards were able to work on their timing a bit over their bye week. Depending on what Jaguars team shows up it could be a very good or very bad week for Jets IDPs.  If the let's run the ball 40+ times Jaguars show up then Jets IDP owners will be very happy but if that does happen then Jets fans probably won't be as happy.

Defensive Line: If you need DL help you should look elsewhere.  Only in deep leagues is Shaun Ellis really worth looking at as a starter and even that is dicey at best.

Linebacker: David Harris currently ranks 10th in fantasy points scored and this week he should be able to build on that ranking.  Bart Scott was hand picked by coach Ryan to play in this defense but from a fantasy perspective is a more inconsistent option.  Scott should be a solid play this week but I wouldn't expect much more than 6-7 total tackles from him.

Secondary: Kerry Rhodes had a three game stretch earlier this year where he looked like he was putting it all back together but then in his last two games he has come up very small.  In those two games he has combined to score just 6 points so ranking him as a 3 star play does come with some risk.  If Rhodes happens to disappoint again this week then it will be time to find him a spot on the bench. After this week many Mike Sims-Walker owners will be asking what happened and why did he do so poorly this week.  Well us IDPers will know that reason is Darrell Revis.  Revis is really coming into his own as a shut down corner but unfortunately means that QBs will start to avoid him more and more.


Cincinnati at Pittsburgh

5 STAR
Nedu Ndukwe/Roy Williams
4 STAR

Leon Hall

3 STAR
Dhani Jones
Rey Maualuga
Johnathan Joseph
2 STAR
Domata Peko
Brandon Johnson
Robert Geathers
1 STAR
Frostee Rucker
Keith Rivers

BengalsThe Bengals are for real folks.  Make no mistake about it this team is playing very good football.  Players are playing and having fun and not bitching and getting arrested like in years past. While I do think the Bengals have a good team I didn't think they would be able to beat the Ravens twice in one season but they did just that.  Well now this week they have to travel to Pittsburgh to try and knock the Steelers off for the second time this year and you guessed it I just can't see that happening.  Well crazier things have happened so just sit back and enjoy what should be a great football game.

Defensive Line: Since Antwan Odom was lost for the season only one Bengals DL has posted more than one solo tackle in a game.  That was Frostee Rucker and the 2 solo tackles he posted against the Bears are part of the whopping 3 solos he has posted all year long.  Read: move along if you are looking for DL help.

Linebacker:  The Ravens LBs have been pretty disappointing from a fantasy standpoint this year.  Still it is hard to look past what looks to be a very good matchup this week.  Dhani Jones is the safest LB to give a 3 star rating too but he too carries some risk.  This is a big game and I think that rookie Rey Maualuga is the kind of player that is going to step up in big games in the future.  My gut says that this is the week he shows what I am talking about.  Just beware that Maualuga has only posted more than 4 solo tackles once this year.  Keith Rivers (calf) did not practice on Wednesday but at this point is even a risky start when healthy.  With Rivers looking like he is going to be out this week a sneaky play could be Brandon Johnson.

INJURY UPDATE:  Keith Rivers (calf) did not practice all week and is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.

Secondary:  Roy Williams (forearm) is listed on the injury report as practicing fully on Wednesday.  I am listing both Williams and Nedu Ndukwe as 5 star plays but that rating is meant for the one that starts this week.  If Williams is able to practice all week and play then he is the 5 star play but if he ends up being limited and then is inactive again this week then it is Ndukwe who is the 5 star play.  Leon Hall has been a very productive fantasy DB in CB mandatory leagues and this week versus the Steelers passing attack should be a strong play even in DB combined leagues.

INJURY UPDATE:  Roy Williams (forearm) has been placed on season ending IR by the Bengals.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Troy Polamalu
3 STAR
James Farrior
James Harrison
Ryan Clark
2 STAR

Lawrence Timmons

1 STAR
Brett Keisel
Casey Hampton
Lamar Woodley

SteelersThe defending world champions will be looking for redemption for an earlier season loss they suffered at the hands of the Bengals.  The question is how much coming off of a short week in a big win versus the Broncos going to hurt the Steelers. I expect Mike Tomlin to have this team ready to play and to try and make a statement to the Bengals that the Steelers are still the big dogs in this division.  With the way that Cedric Benson has been running the ball you can expect Steelers IDPs to benefit. 

Defensive Line: Make no mistake about it that the Steelers DL is a major cog in their defense.  However, the scheme severely limits the DLs fantasy value.

Linebacker:  The Steelers LBs will need step up their play if they hope to keep Cedric Benson from running wild on them.  In their first meeting Benson ran for just 76 yards but still had a 4.8 YPC and over his last two games he has carried the ball 71 times for 306 yards with a 4.3 YPC. Jams Farrior will be a key factor in determining if Benson is successful or not.  James Farrior started off the season dropping into coverage more than he had in the past and it was negatively impacting his pass rush stats.  Well the Steelers are back to rushing Harrison less and he has been filling up the box score too.  Harrison has 7 sacks in his last 5 games.

Secondary:  Look for Troy Polamalu to do everything in his power to limit the Bengals offense.  With what other safeties have posted against the Bengals Polamalu should approach double digit total tackles.  After a week off because of the a health condition Ryan Clark will be back in the Steelers starting lineup.


New Orleans at St. Louis

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Roman Harper
Jonathan Vilma
Scott Shanle
Darren Sharper
2 STAR

Jabari Greer
Tracy Porter
Will Smith

1 STAR
Scott Fujita
Charles Grant

SaintsThe unbeaten Saints travel to St. Louis to play a Rams team that has scored just 77 points so far this year. The Saints have scored more points in the 2nd half of their last 4 games.  So this really does have a bit of David versus Goliath to it.  This time I think Goliath will be fine when it comes to staying undefeated.  The only concern in this game is the poor tackle opportunity matchup that Saints IDPs face this week. 

Defensive Line:  Will Smith and Charles Grant continue on their own separate paths.  With Smith continuing to post very nice numbers while Grant should look into becoming a magician with all the disappearing he has been doing.  However, no DE this year has posted more than 4 solo tackles or recorded double digit sack versus the Rams this year so you should temper expectations even for Smith. 

INJURY UPDATE:  Sedrick Ellis (knee) has been ruled OUT for this week.

Linebacker: Over the past two weeks Jonathan Vilma has racked up 16 total tackles and while not spectacular his owners are happy to see him bouncing back.  This week the Rams will have to establish their running game because right now Steven Jackson is their meal ticket and I expect Vilma will benefit from it.  The more effective the running game the better numbers for Vilma and Scott Shanle.

Secondary:  Roman Harper currently ranks 3rd in fantasy points scored among DBs and is a must start even with this poor matchup.  Just don't expect Harper like numbers is all.  Darren Sharper surprisingly ranks 8th in fantasy points scored this year but much of that is attributed to his big plays.  So far leaning on Sharper has been alright and this week don't be surprised to see him add to his interception total.  I don't expect the Rams to be able to get their passing game going so that limits the fantasy value of both Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter.

INJURY UPDATE:  Jabari Greer (groin) has been ruled out for this week.
INJURY UPDATE:  Darren Sharper (knee) was limited in practice on Thursday and Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

5 STAR
Oshiomogho Atogwe
4 STAR

Ronald Bartell
James Butler

3 STAR

James Laurinaitis

2 STAR
Paris Lenon
1 STAR
James Hall
Leonard Little
Chris Long

RamsWith the bye week in their rearview mirror the only thing left for the Rams to really look forward to is the end of the season.  I am not sure who wants the season to end faster, the players, fans or fantasy owners that drafted Donnie Avery and Randy McMichael.  At least Steven Jackson hasn't thrown in the towel and is still playing his heart out.

Defensive Line:  James Hall has been a pretty good DL this year but this week versus Drew Brees you have to leave Hall as well as Chris Long and Leonard Little on your bench.  The Saints have been allowing a bit more pressure to get to Brees lately but this is still far from what I would call a good matchup versus the Saints.

Linebacker:  The last two MLBs to face the Saints have logged 25 total tackles and James Laurinaitis should help to keep that strong trend going.  The only MLB to really have a bad game versus the Saints this year was Omar Gaither.  If Paris Lenon is able to handle nickle duties then he could be penciled in as a 3 star play but I am not willing to risk ranking him that high this week.

Secondary:  Look for the Saints secondary to be plenty busy this week.  Oshiomogho Atogwe leads the Rams secondary with 100 fantasy points scored this year.  That ranks Atogwe 17th in points scored among DBs.  Ronald Bartell is the next highest scoring DB for the Rams, having accumulated 90 fantasy points and a ranking of 28th among DBs.  James Butler and Craig Dahl have combined to score 88 fantasy points but Butler is the play now as he is healthy and Dahl is back to a reserve status.


Buffalo at Tennessee

5 STAR
Paul Posluszny
4 STAR

Bryan Scott

3 STAR

Marcus Stroud
Chris Kelsay
Donte Whitner

2 STAR
Aaron Schobel
Terrence McGee
Jairus Byrd
1 STAR
Drayton Florence

BillsThe biggest question I have with regards to the Bills is how much longer before Dick Jauron is given his walking papers.  It was a head scratcher when he got an extension and that is putting it mildly.  Oh and you know your season is in the tanker when the talking heads at ESPN etc. are starting to talk about your team as a possible landing spot for Michael Vick next year.  Bills IDPs are facing a Titans team that for the season is giving up the NFL average in tackle opportunities/game but over the past two games with Vince Young behind center the Titans are giving up 55 tackle opportunities/game and that is what the Saints are giving up per game and they rank 1st in tackle opportunities allowed to their opposition.

Defensive Line:  Chris Kelsay has put up nice tackle numbers so far this year but not much of anything else.  If you have a solid team and just need steady tackle production then Kelsay is the kind of player you can safely plug into your lineup.  Aaron Schobel is having a pretty solid year but don't expect him to be able to track down the fleet footed Young this week.  Making matters even worse for Schobel (groin) is that he missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday.  Marcus Stroud has been a good start in DL combined leagues this year and this week should be no different.

Linebacker:  Look for Paul Posluszny to top double digit tackles this week.  Over the past two weeks Justin Durant and Patrick Willis have combined for 26 total tackles.  The Bills have suffered a ton of injuries at the LB position this year and now Keith Ellison (thigh) is hurt and has has yet to practice this week. 

INJURY UPDATE:  Keith Ellison (thigh) has been ruled OUT for this week.

Secondary: Bryan Scott looks like he is finally healthy enough to return to the lineup this week but there could be a small twist to where he plays.  Due to the injuries at LB Scott has been practicing at LB.  Both Donte Whitner and Jairus Byrd should start at the safety spots with Scott playing a "big nickel" role.  That means that George Wilson looks like the odd man out.

INJURY UPDATE:  Terrence McGee (knee) did not practice all week and has been ruled OUT for this week.
INJURY UPDATE:  Donte Whitner (ankle) was limited in practice all week and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR

Cortland Finnegan

2 STAR

Stephen Tulloch
Chris Hope
Keith Bulluck
David Thornton
Nick Harper
William Hayes

1 STAR
Michael Griffin

TitansDon't look now but Vince Young has led the Titans to two consecutive wins and this week very well could be three in a row.  Of course it isn't all Vince Young because the defense is getting healthier and that sure has helped. Unfortunately, this week isn't a very good matchup for Titans IDPs.  The Bills rank a lowly 28th in tackle opportunities allowed/game.

Defensive Line:  Trent Edwards is slated to return as the starting QB for the Bills this week and he could be a bit gun shy so that could help the Titans DL.  However, I really don't expect much from the Bills offense in this game and would leave all of their DL on your fantasy bench.

Linebacker:  The trio of Keith Bulluck, Stephen Tulloch and David Thornton have all been pretty productive this year.  However, this week I would think twice about starting any of them except in the deepest of leagues.

INJURY UPDATE:  David Thornton (hip) was limited all week in practice and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary: Cortland Finnegan made his way back into the Titans starting lineup and he did what he always does, produce plenty of tackles.  On top of that he added an interception and pass defended too.  Look for Nick Harper (forearm) to get back into the starting lineup this week.  So far this week he has practiced fully.

INJURY UPDATE:  Nick Harper (forearm) practiced fully all week but is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.


Denver at Washington

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Elvis Dumervil
3 STAR
DJ Williams
Brian Dawkins
2 STAR
Andra Davis
Champ Bailey
1 STAR
Robert Ayers

BroncosThe Broncos now have people second guessing if they are a good team or not.  To start the year many thought the Broncos would be horrible and then after getting out the gate 6-0 many of those same people were starting to say that Broncos were for real.  I still had my doubts and still do.  Consecutive losses to the Ravens and Steelers have brought the them back down to earth some and a game versus the Redskins looks just like what the doctor would order to get them back into the win column.  The Redskins offense will be without Clinton Portis and will probably continue to struggle. 

Defensive Line: There is no fantasy value on the Broncos DL.

Linebacker: Elvis Dumervil has really found his niche as a rush OLB in the Broncos 3-4 defense.  The Redskins have holes on their OL and Dumervil should have a big game because of it.  As always there is risk relying on rush OLBs that garner their fantasy points from sacks and big plays.  DJ Williams is solidly entrenched as a top 10 LB this year but this week Williams owners will need to temper their expectations versus the inept Redskins.

Secondary: You can bet your last dollar that Brian Dawkins is letting his defensive mates know what he thinks of their performance the last two weeks.  Look for Dawkins to continue his solid play but like with DJ Williams temper your expectations a bit.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

London Fletcher
Andre Carter
Laron Landry
Reed Doughty

2 STAR

Rocky McIntosh
Albert Haynesworth

1 STAR
Brian Orakpo

RedskinsThe Redskins have been pretty pathetic for much of this year but make no mistake about it they have a defense that can shut just about any offense down.  It really is a shame that a once proud franchise is currently in the state that it is.  Look for Redskins key IDPs to have a pretty good week as the Broncos look to get right on offense.

Defensive Line:  Andre Carter has been pure gold for owners that were able to mine him late in drafts.  All Carter has done is log 35 total tackles with 6.5 sacks which has him ranked as the 3rd overall DL in fantasy points scored and that is even after an abysmal 2 point effort last week versus the Falcons. I wouldn't expect a huge game from Carter but he should put up around 10 points minimally.  In DT mandatory leagues you can bump Albert Haynesworth up to a 3 star play.

Linebacker: London Fletcher ranks 13th in fantasy points scored among LBs which is sort of amazing considering he is only averaging 3.25 solos over his last four games.  Since Fletcher seems to be struggling a bit he is only rated a 3 star play instead of what would normally be a 4 star matchup.

Secondary:  Big news this week is that Chris Horton has been placed on season ending IR.  That means that Reed Doughty will assume the full time starting SS position that he and Horton had been splitting time at.  Laron Landry has been producing better then he had in previous campaigns which is why he is a 3 star play this week.  Unfortunately, the numbers don't really show that both safeties should be good starts so there is some "gut" in their rankings.  If I had to say who I had to play if given the choice of just one then I would go with Doughty.


Kansas City at Oakland

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

None

3 STAR
Demorrio Williams
2 STAR

Corey Mays
Mike Brown
DaJuan Morgan
Glenn Dorsey

1 STAR
Brandon Carr
Brandon Flowers
Tamba Hali
Mike Vrabel
Tyson Jackson

ChiefsThe Chiefs made a valiant attempt to come back and pull out a win versus the Jaguars last week but came up just a bit short.  The biggest news coming out of KC this week was the release of running back Larry Johnson.  At least that gave Chiefs fans something to smile about.  LJ was within like 75 yards of setting the teams all time rushing record and fans actually started a petition to not allow him to break the record.  Squeaky wheel gets the grease, I guess.  I know it may be hard to believe  but the Chiefs are moving in the right direction.

Defensive Line: The Raiders will probably try to run the ball and run the ball and run it some more this week so that could lend itself to making Glen Dorsey a solid play this week.  Please note, I said could and not would.

Linebacker:  Demorrio Williams and Derrick Johnson are playing in a rotation with Johnson playing in nickel snaps. With the offense the Raiders run that means that Williams should be on the field for more than his normal amount of snaps. 

Secondary: John McGraw missed last weeks game with an injury and that allowed DaJuan Morgan to start in his place. McGraw is back practicing fully this week but I still am speculating that Morgan will get the start so the Chiefs can see what they have in the kid.  Last week Morgan did post a respectable 6 solo tackles.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Kirk Morrison
Thomas Howard
Tyvon Branch

2 STAR
Richard Seymour
1 STAR
Michael Huff 
Greg Ellis

RaidersThe black hole, why can't this team fall into one.  Their fans certainly deserve better but right now there doesn't look to be even a glimmer of hope towards any future success.  This week at least the Raiders  should get McFadden back along with getting to play at home.  Hard to believe that this team is actually probably going to notch their 3rd win of the season this week.

Defensive Line: This game is going to be ugly and by ugly I mean it could be a 3 and out fest from both teams.  I really would look for DL help elsewhere this week.  Greg Ellis (knee, shoulder) did not practice on Wednesday.

INJURY UPDATE:  Greg Ellis (knee, shoulder) did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday but practiced in a limited fashion on Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker: Halfway thru the NFL season and Kirk Morrison ranks 5th among LBs in fantasy points scored.  Not bad considering he was fighting to keep his job in the preseason.  If you are in a dynasty league and your trade deadline hasn't passed and you don't look like you can make a serious run in your playoffs you really might want to consider dealing Morrison while his value is high.  This week his numbers will most assuredly take a hit as the Chiefs try to find their running game.  Thomas Howard currently ranks as a low level LB3 and is a fringe 3 star play this week.

Secondary:  Tyvon Branch has been one of the top DBs in the league all year and is currently ranked 7th in fantasy points scored.  Just like for Morrison, Branch could be limited by a struggling Chiefs offense.  With that said he very well could post a bulk of his numbers in garbage time at the end of the game.


Seattle at Arizona

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Leroy Hill
3 STAR

David Hawthorne
Aaron Curry
Jordan Babineaux
Josh Wilson

2 STAR

Patrick Kerney
Darryl Tapp
Deon Grant
Marcus Trufant

1 STAR
Lawrence Jackson

SeahawksThe Seahawks dug a deep hole to start last weeks game because after just one quarter they were down 17-0 to the lowly Detroit Lions.  Luckily, veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck was able to lead the team back to a 12 point win in their home stadium.  This week they have to go on the road and visit a good Cardinals team.  If they hope to have any chance of pulling off an upset they will not be able to fall behind my 2+ TDs early.  On a good note the Seahawks are getting a bit healthier on the defensive side of the ball.

Defensive Line: Relying on Patrick Kerney isn't the easiest thing to do in the world but he is healthy and QB Kurt Warner is known to take a sack or two.  Still it is just to hard to look past that only 2 DEs have recorded more than 2 tackles versus the Cardinals this year.  So if you have any Seattle DEs you must sit them if at all possible.

Linebacker:  Don't let David Hawthorne's 2 INTs last week fool you, Leroy Hill is the best Seattle LB in coverage.  Hill should see plenty of action this week versus the Cardinals passing attack.  Hawthorne should still post decent numbers this week.  I also think we will see Aaron Curry put up a solid game too.

Secondary: We all know the Cardinals are going to throw the ball and that adds to the fantasy value of the Seattle secondary.  Look for Josh Wilson and Jordan Babineaux to lead the way.  For the most part those two have up good numbers the last 4 games.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Karlos Dansby
Adrian Wilson
2 STAR
Chike Okeafor
Calais Campbell
Antrel Rolle
1 STAR
Gerald Hayes
Darnell Dockett

CardinalsTalk about a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde performance.  Last week the Cardinals took it on the chin at home losing to the Carolina Panthers in a game where Kurt Warner threw FIVE interceptions.  Then last week the Cardinals have to go on the road and play the Bears in Chicago and all they do is lay waste to the Bears beating them 41-21 in a game that Warner threw FIVE TDs.  The Cardinals look to be the best team in a poor division but they will need to put up in this divisional matchup to show that they are indeed the best of their division.

Defensive Line: Calais Campbell has only put up 3 or more solo tackles in a game three times this year. That isn't the type of production you want in your lineup.  The Seahawks don't have the best OL in the world so if you are in a bind and need to start Campbell at least you have that going for you.

Linebacker: Normally, Karlos Dansby is a no brainer start but this week there is some risk involved with starting him.  In their last meeting earlier this year Dansby only posted 1 tackle versus the Seahawks add to that when Patrick Willis faced the Seahawks he was only able to post 4 solos and 1 assist and you can see this may not be the best matchup for Dansby. Gerald Hayes (back) owners will not like hearing that Hayes missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday and is in danger of not playing this week too.

INJURY UPDATE:  Gerald Hayes (back) and Chike Okeafor (back) both missed practice on Thursday and Friday and each is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.

Secondary: Strong safeties have had pretty good success against the Seahawks this year and is why Wilson is a 3 star play.  Just realize that in their previous matchup that Wilson only posted 4 solo tackles versus the Seahawks.  Oh how I long for the Adrian Wilson of old.  Since Wilson hasn't really done much to make our jaw drop this year I give you this youtube video of Wilson to show his mad hops: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvDW10VCoqc&feature=related .


Dallas at Green Bay

5 STAR

DeMarcus Ware

4 STAR
Bradie James
Keith Brooking
3 STAR
Jay Ratliff
Gerald Sensabaugh
2 STAR

None

1 STAR

Marcus Spears

CowboysThe Cowboys went into Philly last week and claimed sole possession of 1st place in the NFCE.   Tony Romo was a key reason in that win and in their previous wins as he isn't trying to do to much any more.  I am not 100% convinced that Romo has been able to completely rid himself of those old demons so only time will tell if the Cowboys are actually going to be not only a playoff contender but one that can actually win a playoff game.  This week they will head up to Lambeau Field to face a struggling Packers team and the difference in this game will most definitely be the play of the Packers OL versus the Cowboys rush defense. 

Defensive Line:  Jay Ratliff is coming off his best game of the season so look for him to try and keep rolling versus a very suspect Packers OL.  Outside of Ratliff the Cowboys scheme doesn't allow for much if any fantasy value for their DL.

Linebacker:  If you own DeMarcus Ware get him into your lineup.  I don't care if you own Patrick Willis, Jon Beason & Curtis Lofton and only need to start 1 LB.  This is a weak that Ware could single-handedly win you a game.  Look for Bradie James and Keith Brooking to both be extremely active and above average plays this week too.

Secondary:  The Cowboys LBs should be active enough to limit the tackles the secondary gets to face but Gerald Sensabaugh should be good enough to plug in as a DB3 this week. The Packers have given up some big games to DBs so it won't come as a surprise to see Sensabaugh put up good numbers.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Nick Barnett
3 STAR

Charles Woodson

2 STAR

AJ Hawk
Al Harris

1 STAR

Aaron Kampman
Nick Collins
Atari Bigby

Cullen Jenkins

PackersThe Packers return home fresh off a drubbing at the hands of the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  They say this game is won in the trenches and if that is true then the Packers will continue to struggle until they are able to fix their OL problems. For what it's worth, I don't think Brett Favre is laughing at the Packers but I don't think I would blame him if he did.  How long did it take the Red Sox to exercise the curse of the babe?  Let's hope for Packers fans that they aren't destined to suffer thru a curse of Favre.

Defensive Line:  I just can't recommend playing anyone from the Packers DL this week.  They are limited by scheme and their fantasy production is very inconsistent.

Linebacker: Big news on the injury front this week is that Aaron Kampman (concussion) has missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday.  I will update his status after practice on Friday but a healthy Kampman is normally a risky play anyway so I don't expect moving Kampman above a 1 star play no matter what.  Nick Barnett is averaging 14.5 PPG over his last six games and should be looked at as a high level LB2 most weeks. This week I think the Cowboys rushing attack helps to push Barnett into LB1 territory.  Brandon Chillar says he expects to be able to return as soon as next week so I will monitor the situation for next weeks breakdown.

INJURY UPDATE:  Aaron Kampman (concussion) and Brady Poppinga (quadriceps) have both been ruled OUT for this week.
INJURY UPDATE:  Brandon Chillar (hand) practiced in a limited fashion on Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. 

Secondary: The Cowboys have shown they will try and stretch the field with their passing game but I wouldn't rely on starting any of the Packers secondary players.


Philadelphia at San Diego

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
Chris Gocong
3 STAR
Trent Cole
Will Witherspoon
Sean Jones
Quintin Mikell
2 STAR

Jason Babin
Asante Samuel

1 STAR
Sheldon Brown
Moise Fokou
Akeem Jordan

EaglesThe Eagles did themselves no favors by losing at home to the Cowboys last week.  The Eagles now face a daunting task of going on the road 4 of the next 5 weeks and in those road games face some very tough teams, including the Chargers who they face this week.  To make matters worse the Eagles defense has been besieged with more injuries and even a suspension.  The Chargers, exactly like the Eagles rank tied for 25th in tackle opportunities/game allowed to the opposition.  So expecting much good from Eagles IDPs is a bit of a stretch this week.

Defensive Line: Trent Cole currently ranks as the 5th best DL in fantasy points scored and that is after 4 straight subpar games for Cole.  I would temper expectations some due to his "poor"  play of late but you still have to plug him into your lineup. Victor Abiamiri (knee) has returned to full participation in practice so that could take away some of the snaps that Jason Babin has been seeing.

INJURY UPDATE:  Victor Abiamiri (knee) practiced fully all week but is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker: This week the Eagles look like they are going to have a completely re-tooled starting LB group.  Will Witherspoon will still be starting and wearing the "green dot" but he will be playing WLB instead of the MLB spot he has been playing since coming over in a trade from the Rams. Chris Gocong who normally plays SLB will be manning the MLB spot that Witherspoon was playing. Rookie LB Moise Fokou will be starting at SLB for Gocong.  Why all these changes?  Well it is because Akeem Jordan suffered a knee injury that looks like it will keep him out of this game versus the Chargers.  If miraculously Jordan is able to play everyone should stay in their normal starting spots.  Witherspoon should still be startable this week but the big winner this week should be Gocong. It would be safer to rank him a 3 star play but I look for Gocong to make the most of his start at MLB.

INJURY UPDATE: Akeem Jordan (knee) has been ruled OUT for this week. 

Secondary: Bad news for the Eagles secondary this week too.  They lost Ellis Hobbs for the season due to a neck injury and Joselio Hanson has been suspended for four weeks by the NFL for violation of the leagues substance abuse (diuretics) policy.  Hanson tested positive last year and just lost his appeal.  Not a good week to be thin in the secondary versus a Chargers team that likes to throw the ball down the field.  Look for both Quintin Mikell and Sean Jones to be the most productive secondary players this week.

5 STAR
Eric Weddle
4 STAR
None
3 STAR

Stephen Cooper
Shawne Merriman
Steve Gregory

2 STAR
Shaun Phillips
Brandon Siler
Kevin Burnett
1 STAR

Larry English

ChargersLast week the Chargers pulled out a scintillating win in the final seconds of their game in the Meadowlands versus the Giants.  And with that win they are now right on the heels of the of the division leading Broncos.  The Chargers are looking to make their push and beating a solid Eagles team the week after they knocked off the Giants in Jersey will go a long way in showing this team is a strong playoff contender.

Defensive Line: The Chargers DL presents no fantasy value you at all.

Linebacker:  Last week Brandon Siler filled in for the injured Kevin Burnett and Tim Dobbins and he had a fantastic week posting 8 total tackles.  Stephen Cooper led the team with 14 total tackles and is a must start every week.  This week he does face an Eagles team that doesn't run the ball all that much and likes to throw the ball deep so his numbers look like they will be depressed some this week.

INJURY UPDATE:  Kevin Burnett (ankle) practiced fully all week and is listed as PROBABLE on the injury report.
INJURY UPDATE:  Tim Dobbins (knee) did not practice on Friday and is listed as DOUBTFUL on the injury report.
INJURY UPDATE:  Shawne Merriman (foot) did not practice on Thursday or Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Secondary:  The Eagles aren't giving up many tackle opportunities/game and they don't run the ball very much either so that makes it tough for opposing IDPs to put up good stats against them.  However, the Eagles do like to throw the ball deep and that should keep Eric Weddle very busy in the secondary. 


New England at Indianapolis

5 STAR
Brandon McGowan
4 STAR
Jerod Mayo
3 STAR
Brandon Meriweather
Leigh Bodden
Shawn Springs
2 STAR

Gary Guyton
Ty Warren

1 STAR
Mike Wright
Junior Seau

PatriotsThe Patriots are currently on a roll and will look to keep it going versus the rival Colts.  There really isn't much to say about this game as I just can't wait to watch it and let the play speak for itself but the one thing I will point out is that Brady, Moss and company will be facing another secondary with multiple rookie starters in it.  Also expect good things from key Patriots IDPs as the Colts are giving up the 4th most tackle opportunities/game.

Defensive Line: The Patriots have had good success against the Colts because they always seem to have a wrinkle they are able to throw at them.  I am not going to even attempt to guess what that wrinkle could be but I will say I doubt the Patriots DL see many tackle opportunities since I see this game playing out as a shoot-out.  On the injury front Ty Warren (ankle) missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday.

INJURY UPDATE:  Ty Warren (ankle) was limited in practice on Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

Linebacker:  The Colts have been a pretty good matchup for ILB/MLBs this year and I expect to see Jerod Mayo flying all over the field making plays.  Look for Mayo to log around double digit tackles this week.  I wouldn't rely on any other Patriots LB as a starter this week but don't be shocked if LB is where the Patriots unleash their twist.

Secondary:  Look for Manning and company to keep the Patriots secondary busy this weekend.  Brandon McGowan has been the best fantasy play for the Patriots and that doesn't look to change this week.  Both Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs look to be strong plays in DB leagues and can be bumped up one level in CB mandatory leagues.

INJURY UPDATE:  Brandon Meriweather (foot) was limited in practice on Friday and is listed as QUESTIONABLE on the injury report.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR

Antoine Bethea
Melvin Bullitt
Jerraud Powers
Jacoby Lacey

3 STAR
Clint Session
Gary Brackett
2 STAR
Robert Mathis
Dwight Freeney
1 STAR
None

Colts The Colts will be looking to extend their unbeaten streak but they also realize that more then just an unbeaten record is on the line here.  More than likely the winner of this game will end up hosting the other team later this year in the playoffs.  The Colts really don't want to have to go to New England in January.  Peyton Manning is really playing lights out and I expect to see him put this team on his shoulders this week and overcome whatever the Patriots throw at him.

Defensive Line:  Both Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis can be streaky players but this week neither is a very strong play and they both should be planted on your bench.  Mathis could have some success due to being better at playing the run but like I said in the Patriots DL write-up I really see this game as a shoot-out and to make matters worse for the Colts DL is that Tom Brady doesn't get sacked very much.

Linebacker:  MLBs for the most part have had very good success versus the Patriots this year. Gary Brackett owners have to be encouraged by that trend and if it weren't for Brackett's lack of production recently he would be easily ranked as a 4 or possibly even a 5 star play this week.  Clint Session was extremely productive as he logged 14 total tackles versus the Texans last week.  I wouldn't expect a repeat of that performance but Session should post LB2 numbers at worst this week.

Secondary:  Hopefully if you were using Melvin Bullitt earlier this year while Bob Sanders was injured you didn't drop him.  This week Bullitt and Antoine Bethea look to have very favorable match-ups.  It looks like the Colts are going to have two inexperienced CBs going this weekend and you can expect that Tom Brady is going to test them out early and often.


Baltimore at Cleveland

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Ray Lewis
Terrell Suggs
2 STAR

Kelly Gregg
Fabian Washington

1 STAR
Ed Reed
Haloti Ngata
Tavares Gooden

RavensLast week I really expected to see the Ravens to get a payback win versus the Bengals but boy was I wrong.  The Ravens didn't look very Ravenesque last week but this week they luckily get to face the Browns so they should easily get back into the win column. Don't forget that the Ravens are formerly the Browns that Art Model moved from Cleveland to Baltimore so there will be no love loss this week, especially from the Browns fans. 

Defensive Line:  In their last meeting Terrell Suggs logged 6 solo tackles but wasn't able to register a sack.  The Browns will be running Brady Quinn back out under center so you have to wonder comfortable he will be in the pocket.  Joe Thomas is one of the lone bright spots on the Browns but I still think we see Suggs get at least one sack this week.  Don't expect much from Kelly Gregg or any other Ravens DL as the Browns offense won't string together many plays.

Linebacker:  Ray Lewis has made the most out of limited opportunities this year so there is no reason to think he won't post starters numbers this week.  All bets are off on all other Ravens LBs.  The Browns offense is just far to inept expect much from opposing IDPs.

INJURY UPDATE:  Ray Lewis (foot) did not practice on Thursday or Friday.

Secondary:  When a team struggles to complete double digit passes week in and week out you just can't expect to see much production from the opposing secondary.

5 STAR
None
4 STAR
None
3 STAR
Shaun Rogers
Kaluka Maiava
David Bowens
2 STAR

Kamerion Wimbley
Jason Trusnik
David Veikune
Abram Elam
Mike Adams

1 STAR

Kenyon Coleman
Brodney Pool

BrownsI can't imagine what Brady Quinn did to Eric Mangini to deserve the treatment he is receiving.  I mean did Quinn steal Mangini's donuts or something.  I can see it now, Mangini saying, "I'll get that Quinn, I am going to start him against the Ravens." For one I hope that Quinn is successful but the last thing I want to see is Mangini look smart.  Nah, that won't happen.

Defensive Line: The Ravens should be able to run the ball 30+ times this weekend so look for Shaun Rogers to put up good numbers this week.

Linebacker: The Browns have suffered a ton of injuries at the LB position this year and the latest casualty is Eric Barton who has been placed on season ending IR.  That means that Kaluka Maiava and Jason Trusnik are being thrust into starting roles. Currently it looks like David Bowens will be the most valuable among the Browns LBs and Maiava should be the second most productive but I wouldn't go betting the farm on any of that because at this point in time it really is all up in the air.  Even with all the uncertainty I still think both Bowens and Maiava will see enough snaps to put up startable LB3 numbers at the very worst.

INJURY UPDATE:  David Bowens (knee) did not practice on Thursday or Friday.

Secondary:  Earlier in the season Abram Elam was a solid top option at DB but that was nixed when he started losing snaps and playing time.  Now the secondary is just a muddied mess, much like the entire Browns team and they should all be avoided at this point in time.

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